Serial processing of kinematic signals by cerebellar circuitry during voluntary whisking

Nat Commun. 2017 Aug 10;8(1):232. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00312-1.


Purkinje cells (PCs) in Crus 1 represent whisker movement via linear changes in firing rate, but the circuit mechanisms underlying this coding scheme are unknown. Here we examine the role of upstream inputs to PCs-excitatory granule cells (GCs) and inhibitory molecular layer interneurons-in processing of whisking signals. Patch clamp recordings in GCs reveal that movement is accompanied by changes in mossy fibre input rate that drive membrane potential depolarisation and high-frequency bursting activity at preferred whisker angles. Although individual GCs are narrowly tuned, GC populations provide linear excitatory drive across a wide range of movement. Molecular layer interneurons exhibit bidirectional firing rate changes during whisking, similar to PCs. Together, GC populations provide downstream PCs with linear representations of volitional movement, while inhibitory networks invert these signals. The exquisite sensitivity of neurons at each processing stage enables faithful propagation of kinematic representations through the cerebellum.Cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) linearly encode whisker position but the precise circuit mechanisms that generate these signals are not well understood. Here the authors use patch clamp recordings to show that selective tuning of granule cell inputs and bidirectional tuning of interneuron inputs are required to generate the kinematic representations in PCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebellum / chemistry
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Interneurons / chemistry
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Purkinje Cells / chemistry
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*